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This is the personal weblog of Aakash Raut, established Sept. 2002. It will cover current affairs, worldwide & national topics, local & university events, and provide insight and commentary on contemporary issues and the news from his perspective. Enjoy!

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    Saturday, December 23, 2006

    Update (6/7/07): I think that myself - and/or guest bloggers - will be back here soon... THANK YOU SO MUCH for your patience!! Please stand by.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Associate

    Do your last-minute Christmas shopping at, and help out this blogger!

    Friday, December 22, 2006

    Not Working

    I haven't been able to make much progress at all, on the tasks (such as Graduate coursework, described below), which needed to be in on Monday. This past semester's coursework is actually manageable, but this is not to mention the work from prior semesters.

    As has been said before, being the Chairman of what's been called the most active College Republicans chapter in the state has something to do with this, but this could still have been managed, if a couple of people (not this past semester, but during the prior year), who had taken positions of responsibility had done what they committed to do... and if certain [non-student] leaders had managed things better, and treated us with more respect, rather than just trying to take advantage of our free labor.

    I do not know if I will be a Graduate student again next semester. In addition, there is a possibility that I may have to move to a different state, which has thrown a million different variables into an already very-complicated situation, in which I already had major decisions to make.

    I will be leaving here, on December 28th, to go to the location to where I may be moving. I was already there twice this past semester (for six days in early October, and then during Thanksgiving Break), in which I wanted to survey the city, and learn more about the local and state aspects of life, particularly in the political, occupational, and academic arenas. CR leaders Ruth Malhotra and Alex Brunk have helped a little with this (one conversation each), and fellow UIS student (and CSF member) Josh Sabo will be helping some as well. I should have been in contact with Blogosphere allies, such as Erick Erickson, Basil, Gennie, and - how could I have forgotten!! - our old friend Patrick Carver!!

    The very-distinguished Professor Kent Redfield is giving me extra time to turn in the work from this past semester, which I will hopefullly get completed, before long. As I discovered two years ago, going to a different environment (such as a sunnier location, down South), while bringing along the laptop, can help get work finished.

    Even before the situation regarding this semester, I had (as noted above) a bunch of overdue and incomplete work piled up, so I've been planning to turn this weblog over to guest bloggers. I did that, for the first time, two years ago (right before I left the state - incidentally, on the same date!! - and Nathan Averbeck did so well!! Last year around this time, Christian Hartsock was my guest blogger, and he posted his first entry on Christmas Day.

    As stated in my past entries, I had been meaning to ask James Lawrence to guest blog here again, like he did one time two summers ago. I was planning to do this some months ago, and use as the springboard for his entrance here the fact that he was a major conservative scholarship winner this summer. More recently, I was going to mention that he was featured in that excellent article by Daniel McCarthy for The American Conservative, which I was interviewed for, shortly after my first trip (mentioned above) to the location, for which I'm again leaving in a few days. I need to blog something about that article, which hits upon a key issue that I've been distressed about, for awhile (but not as much anymore, as it seems that more young people now seem to get it).

    I was also going to use this inspirational news item as a springboard to turning over this weblog, which I've had saved on my laptop desktop since August. It shows that you can still take care of tasks, even if it seems that too much time has passed.

    I was having similar problem last year, to which I've having this year... I was reminded of that when checking my blog's hit counter's referral listings, and noticing hits from this 'Marginal Revolution' entry from last year, which I had trackbacked to, from this entry on December 31st - with the text and 'title' labels of busy, errands, research, writing. (See, many of us have these types of problems, around this time of the year... The reason that that entry came up again this month was that Tyler Cowen linked to it, in this recent entry, also on the topic of errands and busyness. (Why aren't they allowing trackbacks there anymore?)

    It is from there that I found 'The Happiness Project.' Check out this 'tip' from last month (I'm doing #4 right now... and have been for awhile! :-), and this recent piece of advice, and this one, this one, this one, this one, and last but not least, this 'tip' for 'Happiness'.

    Update (6/7/07): I may be coming back before long - or at least guest bloggers may.

    - - - - - - [Hat tip: Chris Abraham]

    Friday, December 15, 2006

    The Mother of All Deadlines II, Jeff Black addendum

    Christmas EXPLOSSION BOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMM 2006, hosted once again by Jeff Black

    I wanted to do a 'live-blog' entry, during this Christmas Party ("Explosion") that I am at... but oftentimes, I obsess about what order to post blog entries in, whether to divide something into two or more entries, or put it all in one, etc. I didn't know whether to publish these thoughts below the entry about my post-semester coursework emergency, or above it, or as a shrunken addendum to it, or... I guess I'm just going to publish this as a separate entry, above the previous one, and go back to assignment-attempting and partying.

    What I wanted to say is that I remember last year, I was at this Christmas Party, again held right after the semester officially ended, and like last year, I had incomplete coursework in my Graduate POS Course, and was sitting on Jeff Black's campus townhouse bed, with a few others who were in the room, trying to work on composition. I also remember that I had partially written (and saved as a draft) a blog entry, several days later mentioning some things from the party, and thoughts I had had, about the movies they were considering - It's a Wonderful Life and Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. I was specifically going to expound upon how I was disturbed to learn about the political messages behind that class Christmas tale, and was going to present "the softer side of Scrooge."

    Like many posts, it was one that was saved as a draft on Blogger, and never published. I have done that in December, with Pearl Harbor-related posts, and was wanting to avoid that this year, but so far, once again, the December 7th drafts I saved this year have yet to see the light of the Blogosphere.

    Maybe (though don't count on it) if once I finish this semester's coursework this weekend, I can finish and publish a few of those posts. (I would like to get the above-mentioned one on Scrooge published, perhaps before Christmas.) But I also still need to turn in the remaining work from the class I alluded to above [the work from my Fall 2005 semester course - which I was working on one year ago, at this same event, in the same location, sitting with my laptop on Jeff Black's bed, though this time it's with everyone's coats, so I can't lie down, and be partly awake, partly sick, only to be uplifted by hearing the concluding scene of the Capra film]. I did get some of the essays done, from that Graduate POS course, but still have some to turn in.

    I have been planning to turn this blog over to James, and I have a good springboard in mind from which to do that, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. Last year around this time, I used a guest blogger, but he didn't get the setup configured until Christmas Day, when he published his first entry.

    Jeff Black won the Christian Student Fellowship Santa fundraiser competition This post was meant to be a live-blog Christmas Party addendum to the post I just published below (also from the bed with the coats on it, in Jeff Black's room). It is getting longer and longer though, so I need to cut this off, and get back to... whatever (hopefully, including some coursework completion). They were watching A Charlie Brown Christmas (which Micah brought, as per many requests, and which I don't think I've ever seen before, and this time, only heard parts of, from the other room, though they all got quiet for what was apparently the climatic and powerful part ), and now, they are watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966).

    A Charlie Brown Christmas

    It almost didn't get made...

    For those of you reading this to whom (unlike Drew and Dave and most people here at UIS) this still applies:

    Best of luck to everyone on Finals!!

    The Mother of All Deadlines II

    On Tuesday late morning/early afternoon, I was going to publish a quick entry here, saying something like:

    Help! (12/12/06)

    I have blogged before, during the past year plus (yikes!!) about how I am compiling not only a huge backlog of entries that I need to write up or finish, and publish here... But also, a bunch of overdue and incomplete coursework, that needs to be submitted.

    Today is a special situation, because I'm part of a group for a project in my Graduate Political Studies course, and I need to have my part of the assignment composed and submitted ASAP, for review and printing and presenting this evening, for the class at 6:00 PM. If not, I'll be in trouble not only with the professor, but with my fellow students as well.

    It is so difficult to concentrate and compose things like this... This wasn't a problem for me, during pre-college school, and it was still quite manageable (though a struggle) in undergraduate school. Becoming UIS CR Chairman in the Fall 2004 semester, and needing to turn that organization around (which we did a tremendous job in doing, as people all throughout Illinois, and in D.C. as well, are aware of), has indeed contributed to this dilemma, but other factors are clearly interfering and impeding me as well.

    Rigid deadlines can sometimes breakthrough the fog and internal distractions (which have been keeping me down)... This accountability is something that we should perhaps try in Iraq as well.

    I need to break through right now, and get this thing done.

    I did get that assignment done (though not to the extent I would have liked, but surprisingly satisfactorily), and e-mailed it at 4:08 PM, just not in time for Drew to print it out at the Media Lab. I only had time to print out eight (out of the required sixteen) copies, before class - to which I ended up being about 15 minutes late. I was afraid that I was going to be embarrassed, by barging in with my part of the project (and half-short on copies, also) in the midst of the class presentations.

    Instead, when I got there, the two groups were sitting with their members, reviewing each others' assignments, and those of the other group. I don't know how many people noticed when I came in, but I immediately handed Professor Redfield my assignment, and told him that I didn't have the full 16 copies printed out. He then went and photocopied the rest of the copies - which I ended up not really needing, because my fellow group members had no reason to review it, because we each presented on behalf of our own project contribution.

    When I got up to present my part, I had to improvise. I was unshaven, and my hair was sticking up, and I was nervous, upset, and had absolutely no preparation, but I ended up summarizing things decently.

    Our Professor (buy his books!) is actually giving us until Monday (Dec. 18th) to turn in all our assignments... Even though this is the end of Finals Week. The elections and other stuff has put me quite behind (I'm talking about for this semester, even aside from previously), and I have seven assignments to complete, in about three days. I've been able to do things like this (and more) in the past, many times... But as I've been telling people, I am now getting old. :-(

    I think that politics can do this to people. At 25, I am losing energy, strength, and the ability to do things that were once simplistic.

    Tuesday, December 05, 2006

    Read them!

    I decided the other day to remove my entry below (on the local ice storms, posted at 9:19 PM on Dec. 1st). It will appear again, but I wanted to focus on the previous entry, which I published late... It is a Blogosphere comment, summarizing my in-depth 'pre-election' piece, on how Democrats are more pro-war than Republicans.

    I think that this is especially appropriate, since it was part of a series of posts on liberal war hawks, something that people still seem interested in, as evidenced by this post [ found via the Catallarchy sidebar ] by our old [liberal] friend, Kevin Drum (282 comments!!) and this entry by Glenn Greenwald (amazingly, 69 trackbacks!) and this recent entry, which I read after seeing this one at a weblog I just found, via a Google blogsearch on liberals hawks.

    - Comment on the Election Results, and the Pro-War Liberals

    - The Antiwar Case for a Republican Majority

    Friday, December 01, 2006

    Power back for an Hour

    Despite having a backlog several miles long - for entries that need to be published here - I went ahead and saved some posts as drafts (to be published, hopefully soon) during the past few days, regarding Thanksgiving, elections, and more on liberal internationalism.

    Maybe those will get published, and appear below, before too long... You never know, though. However, I wanted a drop a note right now, about what is going on locally - as well as throughout this region of the country.

    Our house got power back at almost precisely 7:00 PM, a little over an hour ago. (The television still isn't working... Or rather, the cable connection - my dad tested it, and it was in fact able to play a VHS tape. I might be going over to Innertube therefore - I guess that shows, once again, where my priorities wrongfully lie... but it's just so hard to focus and concentrate, many times.)

    I don't know if there are houses or areas left here in Springfield that are still without power. From going over to our newspaper's home page, it appears that there are... Wait - that's from several hours ago, when we were still without power.

    I learned something more today about the city power system, with regards to CWLP and Ameren. On the local news two nights ago, the Mayor's pal, Mr. Todd Renfrow, said that they are prepared, for the coming weather.

    Today was a test of that purported preparedness. (I wonder if what happened today, along with the city's response, in the coming weeks and months, will end up having a negative or positive impact on Mayor Tim Davlin's re-election campaign this Spring - Perhaps this evening is too early to be thinking of this however... Though you can bet that he [and other candidates for his spot, and the city council] probably already are. The energy issue has already been boiling, both this summer, with CWLP, and just this week again, with Ameren and electric rates, and the Davlin/CWLP/Sierra Club deal back on the table, but rammed through again, and construction now starting.)
    Our power went out about 10 minutes after midnight, but almost immediately came back on. The lights flickered a couple of times after that, but we weren't expecting that the power would go off completely, at about 3:00 AM, and stayed off for 16 hours (is that all it was?... it seemed longer). I was told that this - and those tornados earlier this year (which I noticed they did an encyclopedia article on - though I'm disappointed to discover it's been removed from our city's article, which I see has been expanded since then, along with the one for my university, and definitely the one for my high school) - were the longest two outage incidents we've experienced, since living here [for 21 years].

    Someone said on the radio today that this is different from the March tornados, because while they severely affected only parts of Springfield, this latest "snow emergency" situation strongly affected the whole city.

    That made sense, when I heard it on the radio this afternoon, but thinking about it now, I don't know if that is actually true.

    During the tornados, there was only one tree in our entire subdivision that fell down... and I was told that it fell in such an incredible way, as if designed to not hit anything. And those of us on campus had our share of frights that night (and then weeks later again) - Friends actually spotted the twisters, bouncing in and out of the sky, from the townhouses - but both times, it seemed like the campus itself remained untouched.

    (That being said, at our house [I was still at my campus townhouse residence, even though it was Spring Break, and I could have been at home, like the dorm students were... All three of my roommates were still there as well, however], while not hit at all by the tornados, was affected... My parents nearly hurt themselves, trying to rapidly bail the water out, to prevent our [very-finished!] basement from flooding, due to the power outage and sump pump not working.)

    The devastation in other parts of the city (such as Wabash Avenue and the nearby Jerome area) was very severe.

    However, a similar variety-in-severity scenario arguably exists, with the present situation. I called in to work this morning (I work at a place near the east side of the city), to see if things were still up and running. My supervisor said that they were indeed, but I shouldn't come in, because the streets and weather conditions were horrible, and most of the others were not able to come in that day anyway. I called campus this afternoon, and spoke first to Joe, who said that power was on at the campus. I then called Jeff, who confirmed that not only were things fine, but he assumed that CSF ("The Edge") was still on for this evening. The power was still out at 6:13 PM, when I called CSF leader & Campus Minister Todd Magruder on his cell phone, wondering if it was still on... I could hear background noise, indicating that it in fact still was, and he told me that "there are a lot of people here." So I think that there were only parts of the city that were severely affected by this storm... Someone on the radio called in, saying that people here make too much out of these things, that "This too shall pass," and that we should relax and spend time with our families; people in states further north (like Minnesota, etc...) have things much worse. Come to think of it, people do seem to excessively panic, about situations like this... When interviewing us, after we arrived in D.C. for the Presidential Inauguration (our flights were delayed that day, because the area had its first snow), Rose the reporter told us that people there were like that as well - they go crazy when the first snow of the season strikes, even if its not that severe of a situation.

    I could complain about not having access to a flushable toilet today at home, or not being able to use running water (except sparingly), or about not having been able to use a computer today, and having to do things in the dark. However, there are people who don't have home internet access, or homes with bathrooms and running water (or homes at all!), and who can't reassure themselves with the fact that those things will be 'back' in the very-near future.

    One thing that experiences like this show is how dependent we've become on electronic devices, for communicating with others, keeping ourselves occupied, using for work and school, and how much these are related to our sense of emotional and psychologica sercurity and peace of mind.

    Perhaps it would be a healthy excercise to go for a few days, or even a week, without using computers or the television. I did that, for like a 48 hour period (though I maintained my non-use of televion for like a week and half), with participation in a 'fast' that CSF did, back in the Spring 2003 semester.

    I could certainly use the clarity, and loss of distraction, with the situation that I'm in, in the present day.

    Such a project would likely have to be postponed, until after Finals Week, though.